Do you know the leading causes of death for adults over 50? Heart diseases, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.
Heart disease alone accounts for nearly one-third of all deaths among older people.
How do they all interlink? They are all connected to your diet and eating habits.
As your age increases, so does the associated nutritional risk. Your body’s metabolism slows down, your skin thins, and your stomach acid wears down, making you prone to nutrient deficiencies. Your required calorie intake also falls, but your required nutrient intake rises; this can be quite puzzling, and most people struggle to find the right diet to follow.
The effects aren’t just limited to your health; they tend to affect your senses and your outlook on life. A healthier body will make you feel a whole lot better! This is why you need to switch to a healthy diet that incorporates geriatric nutrition.
Diet Over 50: Why it’s Important to Eat Healthy?
Your body changes as you age, and so do its nutritional requirements. As mentioned earlier, people over 50 need to lower their calorie intake. Your skeletal muscles consume most of your adult energy, but as you age, the volume of your skeletal muscles decreases. You also tend to move around and exercise a lot less as you grow old, so any additional calories will lead to rapid fat accumulation, particularly around the belly area.
This fat accumulation can cause various health problems, including high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart disease, strokes, obesity, and diabetes.
But cutting down on calories isn’t the solution as your body still needs its nutrients, and people over age 50 need a lot more nutrients than younger ones. Your bone mass begins to drop progressively as you age, which calls for adequate calcium and vitamin intake to retain bones. If your nutrition intake isn’t enough, it can make your bones prone to
- Fractures and vulnerabilities
- Can lead to poor wound healing
- Muscle weakness
- A weakened immune system.
This is why it is crucial to regulate your nutrition and calorie intake once you reach age 50. A balanced diet with geriatric nutrition is ideal for healthy aging; this includes eating whole foods rich in nutrients.
Here we will be listing foods that you should include in your diet and foods you need to steer clear of for healthy aging.
Diet Over 50: What to Eat After Age 50?
Consume Lots of Whole Grains
According to studies, eating whole grain food such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa can help protect against heart diseases among middle-aged and older-aged adults. Other studies show that eating whole grain foods can reduce the risk of heart disease by over 30%! They also help reduce cholesterol levels, regulate blood pressure, reduce weight, and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Whole Foods Serving for People Over 50
But how many servings should you intake? The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines suggest that all seniors consume at least three servings of whole grains per day. Mediterranean diet is an excellent choice for older people as it focuses on plant-based goods, including whole grains, seeds, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, herbs, and spices.
Foods High In Fiber
Foods such as beans, broccoli, avocados, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and nuts are high in fiber and help regulate your digestive health and bowel function, lowering the chances of constipation (which tends to get more common as you age). But that’s not all foods high in fiber can do; they also help reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes, obesity, colon cancer, and lower cholesterol, making them a crucial part of a healthy diet. This is why you need to follow a diet high in fiber.
Fiber-Foods Serving for People Over 50
As a rule of thumb, you should include at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day in your diet (the fresher the fruit, the better!) You can incorporate more fiber into your diet by
- Replacing high sugar desserts with fruits
- Having more salads filled with greens, vegetables, and nuts
- Adding raisins and dry fruits to your baked goods
- Choosing whole grains over refined grains
- And taking fiber supplements.
Drink Loads of Water
Water makes up 75% of your body. This is why it is crucial to stay hydrated, but hey, we all know this, don’t we? But did you know that aging makes you a lot more prone to dehydration which is why it is crucial to make sure you are regularly drinking loads of water.
Your body will signal you to intake water once it detects thirst through sensors found throughout the body. However, as you age, these receptors find it harder and harder to detect thirst. As a result, you are much more likely to become dehydrated.
Think Omega-3 for Diet Over 50
Omega-3 is a type of fatty acid – the good kind. Your body can’t produce these, so you will have to intake them with your foods. Fish and other seafood, nuts and seeds (chia, walnuts), plant oils (canola, soybean, flaxseed), and Brussels sprouts are some of the highest sources of omega-3.
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What Benefits Does Omega-3 Provide?
They can help reduce triglycerides by 20%-50%, a significant source of heart attacks and strokes. They also help reduce the risk of sudden death due to cardiac arrhythmia and can be beneficial in restoring cognitive performance and brain function. Studies also show that omega-3 fatty acids could have “neuroprotective” properties against dementia, a significant side-effect linked to Alzheimer’s, common in older people.
Incorporate Protein Rich Foods in your Meals
You tend to lose muscle mass as you age; therefore, it is essential to incorporate protein-rich foods into your diet. According to a study, participants who consumed more protein lost 40% less muscle mass as opposed to people with low protein intake.
As you grow older, your body tends to process protein less efficiently and needs more easily-digestible protein to maintain muscle mass, bone health, and strength. This is why you should eat protein-rich foods such as lentils, beans, and chickpeas that are more easily digestible. Also include foods such as lean meat, eggs, and fish as your source of daily protein.
What Food to Avoid After Age 50?
Now that we have talked about what to add to your diet after age 50 for proper nutrition, here are some foods and eating habits you need to avoid for healthy aging.
Avoid Simple Carbs
Simple carbohydrates are found in processed foods such as candy, soft drinks, table sugar, packaged foods such as cookies and syrups. These tend to be broken down a lot more quickly by your body and provide energy but lack fiber, vitamins, and minerals. If the energy produced is not used, it will get stored in your body as fat leading to obesity, heart conditions, type-2 diabetes, and even premature death.
Take out Trans Fats from Your Diet
Trans fats are most commonly found in commercially baked goods, fried foods, margarine, meat, and dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.
These fats present in meat and dairy products are actually healthy and are a crucial part of a balanced diet, but trans fats that are artificially produced, such as those found in butter, margarine, and baked goods, can be bad for you. Trans fats such as these increase cholesterol levels in your bloodstream, create inflammation, promote heart disease, strokes, and lead to diabetes.
Over-Processed Foods Are a Big No-No
The primary goal of a healthy diet is to keep your food intake as less processed as possible. Over processed foods can lead to severe adverse health effects. These foods tend to be high in sugar, carbs, and trans fats, making them a major contributor to obesity, heart diseases, and diabetes.
Processed foods include artificial/chemical substances and have little to no actual nutritional value. These include frozen meals, baked goods, processed cheese, ice cream and candies, instant noodles, sodas, and sweetened drinks.
According to a study, eating more than 4 servings of processed food per day could lead to increased mortality risk, making them a big no-no for those above age 50.
Diet Over 50 Calls for Reduced Sodium & Sugar Intake
High sodium consumption in adults can lead to raised blood pressure, heart diseases, and stroke. They can also lead to calcium loss from bones. This is why you need to regulate your sodium intake. Most adults need just around 500 mg of sodium per day, but the average American consumes about 3400 mg of sodium – far more than the required amount.
The same goes for sugar; most of our sugar comes from processed foods, including soft drinks, fruit drinks, flavored yogurts, cereals, cookies, cakes, candies, and syrups. In fact, we consume a whole lot more sugar than we need. Most adults need no more than 25-36 grams of sugar per day. But our average intake is far more than the required amount – around 22 teaspoons or 88 grams! Unbelievable! Isn’t it?
This increased sugar is empty calories that add to your waistline and have no real nutritional benefits. They can instead lead to a raised risk of diabetes and a whole range of associated heart problems. Hyperglycemia, for example, caused by high sugar intake, can lead to kidney diseases, vision and nerve problems, and heart diseases.
Diet Over 50: Wrapping It Up
So, now you know all about eating healthy past age 50. Eating right does not only mean eating healthy food but also avoiding foods detrimental to health. So, eat carefully and enjoy a healthy life with a healthy body.